Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

Chapter XXV.—God is Not a Being of Simple Goodness; Other Attributes Belong to Him. Marcion Shows Inconsistency in the Portraiture of His Simply Good and Emotionless God.

As touching this question of goodness, we have in these outlines of our argument shown it to be in no way compatible with Deity,—as being neither natural, 2636 nor rational, nor perfect, but wrong, 2637 and unjust, and unworthy of the very name of goodness,—because, as far as the congruity of the divine character is concerned, it cannot indeed be fitting that that Being should be regarded as God who is alleged to have such a goodness, and that not in a modified way, but simply and solely. For it is, furthermore, at this point quite open to discussion, whether God ought to be regarded as a Being of simple goodness, to the exclusion of all those other attributes, 2638 sensations, and affections, which the Marcionites indeed transfer from their god to the Creator, and which we acknowledge to be worthy characteristics of the Creator too, but only because we consider Him to be God. Well, then, on this ground we shall deny him to be God in whom all things are not to be found which befit the Divine Being. If (Marcion) chose 2639 to take any one of the school of Epicurus, and entitle him God in the name of Christ, on the ground p. 291 that what is happy and incorruptible can bring no trouble either on itself or anything else (for Marcion, while poring over 2640 this opinion of the divine indifference, has removed from him all the severity and energy of the judicial 2641 character), it was his duty to have developed his conceptions into some imperturbable and listless god (and then what could he have had in common with Christ, who occasioned trouble both to the Jews by what He taught, and to Himself by what He felt?), or else to have admitted that he was possessed of the same emotions as others 2642 (and in such case what would he have had to do with Epicurus, who was no friend 2643 to either him or Christians?). For that a being who in ages past 2644 was in a quiescent state, not caring to communicate any knowledge of himself by any work all the while, should come after so long a time to entertain a concern for man’s salvation, of course by his own will,—did he not by this very fact become susceptible of the impulse 2645 of a new volition, so as palpably to be open to all other emotions? But what volition is unaccompanied with the spur of desire? 2646 Who wishes for what he desires not? Moreover, care will be another companion of the will. For who will wish for any object and desire to have it, without also caring to obtain it? When, therefore, (Marcion’s god) felt both a will and a desire for man’s salvation, he certainly occasioned some concern and trouble both to himself and others. This Marcion’s theory suggests, though Epicurus demurs. For he 2647 raised up an adversary against himself in that very thing against which his will and desire, and care were directed,—whether it were sin or death,—and more especially in their Tyrant and Lord, the Creator of man. Again, 2648 nothing will ever run its course without hostile rivalry, 2649 which shall not (itself) be without a hostile aspect. In fact, 2650 when willing, desiring, and caring to deliver man, (Marcion’s god) already in the very act encounters a rival, both in Him from whom He effects the deliverance (for of course 2651 he means the liberation to be an opposition to Him), and also in those things from which the deliverance is wrought (the intended liberation being to the advantage of some other things). For it must needs be, that upon rivalry its own ancillary passions 2652 will be in attendance, against whatever objects its emulation is directed: anger, discord, hatred, disdain, indignation, spleen, loathing, displeasure. Now, since all these emotions are present to rivalry; since, moreover, the rivalry which arises in liberating man excites them; and since, again, this deliverance of man is an operation of goodness, it follows that this goodness avails nothing without its endowments, 2653 that is to say, without those sensations and affections whereby it carries out its purpose 2654 against the Creator; so that it cannot even in this be ruled 2655 to be irrational, as if it were wanting in proper sensations and affections. These points we shall have to insist on 2656 much more fully, when we come to plead the cause of the Creator, where they will also incur our condemnation.



Ingenitam. In chap. xxii. this word seems to be synonymous with naturalem. Comp. book ii. 3, where it has this sense in the phrase “Deo ingenita.”










Judiciarias vires.


De ceteris motibus.


Nec necessario.








(i.e., Marcion’s god.)










Officiales suæ.


Suis dotibus.







Next: In the Attribute of Justice, Marcion's God is Hopelessly Weak and Ungodlike. He Dislikes Evil, But Does Not Punish Its Perpetration.